Bonus Session – Teacher Hacks #TMC17


So about 5 minutes before my afternoon session began, I shared some of my favorites…  Just to help me get calm before the actual session began.

Then Anna tweeted


Several asked me to share, so here goes, even a few ideas I didn’t share during the pre-session.


Index card with stop light colors and a paper clip.  Students can keep these in front pocket of their notebook and can use individually during independent practice and/or quizzes, assessments.  As I walk around the room, this can indicate they need me without raising their hand.  Can also use in place of stop light cups during group work if you have small desks, etc.

#makeitstick suggests retrieval practice – basically a flashcard flip book.  Fold piece of card stock in half, can fit 20-26 index cards inside.  GREAT tool for review, just 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  If you use this for a year long or semester long review, students can tape a mid-size manilla envelope into back cover of their notebooks to store.

Magnetic Tape – it was around $5 at walmart, not great with heavy items, but for light weight cardstock or smaller items, perfect.  This particular card set was from Kelly Boles Histogram Buckets! And the accountable talk starters from this post.

Re-purposed Containers…

If you have an activity or set of flashcards, consciously make them the size to fit the Extra  clear box.  Also the Ice Breakers Cubes, these boxes are great for dice, paper clips.  And finally the Crystal Light or other drinks flavors – cover the cylinder with favorite paper and store pens, sharpies, etc.

#pocketphone – I learned about this from some of @suMACzanne’s tweets a while back.  Basically you can hit record and carry your phone around in your pocket for about 10 minutes during your class time.  When you play it back, what is it you are looking/listening for?  Are you concerned with questions / types of questions?  Maybe wait time during student interactions?  Maybe giving concise, clear directions?  Transitions between tasks?

Playback, listen.   Jot notes.  How did it go?  Make plans to adjust, improve whatever your goal may be.  Research, ask for help, work on it.  Then in a couple of weeks, #phonepocket again. Compare / Reflect.  Remember, the goal is to improve, not be perfect.

I love this idea (and have used it several times) because it gives me a different view of my classroom.  It’s un-intrusive, because I am the only one to hear it.  No one has to know, not even the students.  But there is a level of accountability.  I cannot ignore what I hear. Also, Hattie suggestions the influence of microteaching has an effect size of .88.


Microfiber Cloths – to erase dry erase markers.  They wipe away any residue.  When they get gunky, take them home, wash, reuse.  You can find them in household or car cleaning sections.  Watch for sales, shop around.  I got 12 pack $3-4.  I previously cut them into quarters and they work fine.  They did not ravel, but I prefer the larger cloths.


Calendar Numbers – 2 sets to create, then laminate a vertical number line.  This one by my door has been around since 2002ish.  I only used -15 to 15.  But you can often see students looking up to it as they are working.

Feel free to share your hacks!

11 responses »

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! These are great ideas. What is an Extra box?? Enquiring minds want to know…lol remember that phrase? Thanks again for this post!

  2. Question about the stop light cards (I love them because they might be more subtle than cups) – do the kids just put them out if they need help? I thought the color coding was meant to be green I got it, yellow, not sure, red HELP! I’ve never used them but actually have colored cups on my shopping list right now, but I like the idea of the index cards better.

    • Yes, during a quiz/test – or even group work. They can get them out to communicate with me. IF I’m walking around the room, I can quickly see if someone has moved to the red…which is HELP! I’m stuck. Yellow is I have a question, but I’m able to keep working. Green is got it – good to go.

  3. Pingback: Goal Check-In #MTBoS2020 | La Vie Mathématique

  4. Pingback: Flashcard Flipbook #MTBoS2020 | La Vie Mathématique

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